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We are always looking for funny things that have to do with icky things – but icky things keep us in business.  Let us know if you liked this one.



Is it their eight creepy-crawly legs or their eight beady eyes that make spiders a spooky Halloween staple? Either way, new research suggests all those extra pairs of spider peepers have their own roles to play in keeping the arachnids safe. 

Jumping spiders, a group of spiders that actively hunts its prey rather than trapping it in webs, have four pairs of eyes (as do most spiders). A new study finds that while the center, or principal, pair of eyes is good at picking out details, one of the side pairs is crucial for warning spiders when something is coming their way.

This “looming response” is the equivalent of a human ducking and covering when a baseball flies toward his or her face. But humans rely on just one pair of eyes to both avoid the baseball and see the details of its stitching. Jumping spiders use four eyes for the same tasks.

“We see that division of labor within that visual system,” study research Skye Long, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told LiveScience. “That’s pretty cool if you think about it, because we only have one pair of eyes.”

Scared spiders

There are more than 5,000 species of jumping spider, which Long described as the “big cats” of the arachnid world for their hunting abilities. The principal eyes of these spiders allow for sharp, color vision; the spiders can also see ultraviolet light, which is outside the spectrum of human vision, with their main eyes, Long said. [Gallery: Seriously Spooky Spiders]

The secondary eyes dotted around the spiders’ heads are thought to help them detect motion, Long said, but the pair right next to the central eyes, called the anterior lateral eyes, or ALE, seem to be able to discern some detail as well. It was this pair of eyes that Long and her colleagues were interested in studying.

The researchers captured wild Phidippus audax, a species of jumping spider, and dabbed pairs of their eyes with green and orange paint, the arachnid version of a blindfold. In 16 spiders, the researchers masked the principal eyes. In 14, they covered the anterior lateral pair. Another 16 were left paint-free. (After the experiment, the researchers peeled off the paint to restore full spider vision.)

The spiders were then put into an enclosure with an iPod touch. On the screen was a black dot. When the spider was looking toward the screen, the researchers pressed play, and the dot either expanded quickly (as if it coming toward the spider) or contracted (as if receding).

If the spider could detect the motion, it would respond by backing up rapidly, usually lifting up a couple of legs in a defensive posture.


“It’s a very scared response,” Long said.

But spiders with their anterior lateral eyes blocked didn’t show this response, the researchers reported in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Biology Letters.

Meanwhile, “spiders with their principal eyes blocked behave the same as spiders that don’t have any paint on their eyes at all,” Long said.

Eye-mazing Evolution

That means the secondary eyes are crucial for alerting the spider to dangerous motion, Long said. Spider eyes are a “really cool step in evolution,” she added; insects have compound eyes with multiple lenses, and some areas of those eyes have certain functions. Spiders, on the other hand, separate out visual functions across their heads.

“This is a different pathway that evolution has taken to allow a very small animal to have a very extensive visual system,” Long said.

The researchers now plan to continue investigating the roles of the secondary eyes. They’re developing a spider eye-tracker so they can expose the arachnids to videos and watch where their principal eyes look.

“That gets us very deeply into how the spider is seeing the world,” Long said. “As close as it can get, really.”



LIVESCIENCE.COM/ October 18, 2012, 9:38 AM

Brought to you by:  Coastal Pest Control



Fire ants, both black and red, are an invasive species and their bites can be quite painful and in some cases, deadly. Identifying fire ants is difficult because they look much like ordinary ants. They’re 1/8″ — 1/4″ long and reddish brown to black in color, and are probably best distinguished by their aggressive behavior and characteristic mound-shaped nests.

Generally, mounds can swell up to 12″ or more in diameter and height. Completely neglected, mounds in excess of 2′ in diameter and height are not uncommon. The nests each contain several hundred-thousand ants, and can reach densities of up to 1,000 nests per acre. The underground portion is a series of interlocking galleries, tunnels and chambers that may extend to depths of 1′ – 5′ or more, depending on soil type, age and colony size. Tunnels just below the soil surface extend laterally several yards out from the mound, with regular exits where the ants come out to search for food or attack.

Fire ant mounds are often found with multiple queens, buried up to 25′ underground and supported by a complex network of other ants performing an amazing array of tasks. Those queens willing to share, have more successful colonies since it is harder to kill multiple queens. Worker ants live only a few months, but the queens live 2 years, producing about 1000 eggs a day!

When disturbed, fire ants are very aggressive. The ant grips the skin with its mandibles (jaws) and stings its victim several times in a circular pattern around the point of mandible attachment. Because of the ant’s aggressive nature and capacity for multiple stings, an attack usually results in several stings.

Some people who are stung experience only local reaction and temporary discomfort but, in most, a swollen red area will occur followed by a sterile pustule within 24 hours. Although the venom is bactericidal, secondary infections due to scratching may occur. While a single fire ant sting hurts less than a bee or wasp sting, the effect of multiple stings is painfully impressive.

If you find fire ant mounds in your yard, call Coastal Pest Control of the Treasure Coast at 772.879.0904.

Because of poor soil conditions, trees on the Treasure Coast often require deep root fertilization. Through introducing fertilizer to your soil, we provide your trees and ornamental shrubs with the vital nutrients they need to prepare them for the growing season and to attain their full growth and aesthetic potential. This procedure will enhance the beauty, strength and longevity of your trees and shrubs.

Regular fertilization will improve soil conditions around the roots, increasing the absorption of water, while decreasing runoff and erosion. Roots will thrive when oxygen, nutrients and moisture are supplied. This allows for a rapid recovery and improved environmental conditions around and within the root area.

Please call Coastal Pest Control at 772.879.0904 today to schedule a treatment.